Today it has been a special day. Comes 9am and I’m at the Brewery road studios where photographer Mark Gostick is surrounded by bags of equipment and coming from afar I see David Gant in all his captivating presence: he looks like he stepped out from another time and greets us with the savoir-faire that belongs to the greats without possibly knowing that he certainly belongs to the category. As he mentioned later on speaking of a singer he loves “the Greats don’t have to prove themselves to anybody. They just are.”
David’s CV is as long as my arm and we remember him in roles from “Braveheart” and “Jane Eyre” to mention but a few but this is something abut him you can easily find on line.
I would like to speak of a few hours spent with the marvellous man behind the actor with his silver hair and interesting facial lines I couldn’t wait to work with. The lines on his cheeks tell the story of a thousand laughter and the ones on his forehead make him look like a child surprised by life. No lines of a stressed or an envious man And while I speak to him I realise that he’s lived way more than 9 lives… Once he even endured an 8 hour make up test in order to become a 200 yrs old man for Discovery Channel! He went to the British library and sat there listening to the tapes of people who were over 100 years old in order to understand his role better and what caught his attention was their voices: strong but calm altogether, confident and trembling from age. He smiles and says: “the first one I heard was the one I kept on going back to, it’s strange, I would always go back to that one in spite of the others. It’s a matter of instinct: if something works I know it within 5 minutes”.
And you can tell. David is one of those people that enter a room and illuminate it with a glance, a face that tells a million stories between its lines. The first thing he did when he arrived on set was wondering in the studio by himself touching the furniture and the lights, the camera – sometimes – , the walls, bare feet – sometimes - to familiarise with what was going to be his home for a few hours “to feel part of it. Be in it.” Just like being at home where one doesn’t need to switch the lights on and knows where everything is. “things are a reflection of ourselves”.
Then he asks Mark if he’d rather him moving around the set or standing still, how much freedom of action he has. And with such intense features and charm it is only obvious that Mark lets him free to do what he knows how to do to perfection: Adapting to the mood but also creating it: “adapting to the music or the *absence* of music” as he says “creates a whole different feeling inside. One day for a photo shoot we had the Rolling stones playing in the stereo. I’m not necessary a fan of the Stones but on that occasion I wanted their music to be loud and on repeat: the music was setting the mood. I prefer music to be loud and I love jazz.”
And speaking of jazz he describes to me one of the best night of his life: in my beloved Rome, under a starry sky listening to jazz music. Like the time he had the honour to accompany Adelaide Hall on stage for a show: he recalls her arriving on stage for rehearsal and going to the microphone. She puts her handbag on the floor to the side and simply started singing. Just like that. “boy could she sing!”
And David talks and talks about small anecdotes, stories from his past… and one could listen to him for hours. The banker that decided to quit the safety net of a secure job to study at the academy of music and drama in Glasgow when he was 30 yrs old.
The actor that shot the Guinness campaign thanks to which was requested by german designer of menswear Doris Hartwich for her aw 1999/2000 fashion show. And so it is that David becomes a model at 57 years old. He keeps a separate line between acting and modelling: “they are two different things but I like them both: it’s about loving what you’re doing when you are doing it. I enjoy everything I do…”
And you can see that too: David is INCREDIBLE in front of a camera: he is limitless, he is not afraid of the “mistake” as such he knows that the best shots happen sometimes because of it. He experiments his body with moves and dialogues also, it helps him to get into the character he’s improvising. Mark shots him restlessly, he lets him free to be and the energy in the room is tangible, we are all in love with his charisma, we can’t take our eyes off of him: we are witnessing one of those moments where art is above everything. David says “Showtime!” and gives us 100 per cent and we return the favour happily.
I don’t need to ask him any more questions. As he said this morning: “sometimes is better not to know. It takes away the mystique.”
Find David in the men section of www.models1.co.uk
The stylist for our shoot is none other than Steph Wilson: www.onemakeuphairandstyling.
And here is a link to our wonderful photographer www.markgostick.com
Credits for the hair and the good mood of the day go to the fabulous Teddy Mitchell! www.good-head.co.uk
Art director is lovely Kate ……………..